Our day Hiking in Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre is a national park known for picturesque villages that dot the coast line of the Ligurian Sea. We were based out of Florence and since we were so close, we knew we had to visit! Join us as we skip down the coast on our Cinque Terre adventure hiking along the Azure Trail.

For this this journey, we decided to take a tour with Walkabout Florence because of the amazing reviews we read and the fact that parts of the trail are still not in the best condition since flooding in 2014 and we didn’t want to be in over our heads for a nice day hike. At the end of the journey we were not disappointed with our decision! 

To start our adventure we arrived in La Spezia to catch the train into the Riviera coastline of Cinque Terre and start our journey on the Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail that connects the main 5 coasts cities of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. Note: € 13 per person is the cost of a day pass for access into Cinque Terre which and includes unlimited train travel between all of the cities and La Spezia. There are other options you can find here if you are staying longer than just a day.

Once inside the national park we skipped Riomaggiore, the first town on the path, and started in Manarola. Our guide let us know that the trail between the two is still a mess.

Manarola is the oldest of the towns and is known for it’s surrounding wine vineyards that product fantastic vino. As we started to ascend the hill, the picture perfect view of Manarola came into view and we already knew this was going to be a fantastic day. 

The next stop on our adventure was Corniglia. To get there we hoped on the train for one stop and then made our hiking journey up 386 stairs, zig-zagging back and forth until we finally made it to the town. Corniglia’s charm comes from the narrow winding streets full of cute shops, cafe’s, and art galleries. At the end of the town was a viewpoint with sweeping views of the Ligurian Sea. We decided take a seat at a restaurant with a view, grab a glass of local wine with pesto and anchovies bruschetta bites, then listened to the sounds of the crashing waves.  

This next hike was the longest journey we took along the Azure Trail. It is one one of the best maintained portions and anyone with a medium level of skill could easily take this hike. Along the way we were treated with olive tree groves, plums from a wild fruit tree and the most fantastic views of the coastline.

Just over 90 minutes later, we arrived at our third town of the day, Vernazza. It is incredible how the town hugs the cliff as it stretched out to a point and is crowned by the ruins of Doria Castle. This is one of the smallest towns on our adventure so after wandering through the colorful streets we grabbed a drink, sat on a bench to people watch, and relax.

The farthest town in Cinque Terre is Monterosso. This was probably our least favorite town of the day. It felt like a port town a cruise company would build catering to party-going patrons. We were not totally in the mood for bars playing dance music and baking in the heat under colorful umbrellas so we ended up making our way into old town to see the church of San Giovanni Battista, a 12th-century monastery with a memorable black and white facade. After a quick stop we found a cafe and grabbed a cappuccino. 

We all know the saying “save the best for last” and there was no better proof of this than when we arrived in Riomaggiore, our last stop for the day. The most incredible moment was when we rounded the corner to the port and was greeted by the most fantastic view of brightly colored homes layered on top of each other. The energy was infectious was being sunbathed, cliff jumped, and swam in crystal clear water. 

As the day drew to a close, we took the train back to La Spezia and bussed it back to Florence. The end came too quickly and we wished we could have had more time to enjoy Cinque Terre. We are thinking a future extended trip may be in the cards. 

We are two en route for future adventures in Cinque Terre.

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Biking Berlin: How to See Berlin in 6 hours!

We love Berlin! There is relaxed vibe that draws you in and keeps you wanting more. With such a relaxed vibe you could spend weeks taking your time to explore every nook and cranny of the city. However, when wanting to see the world in a year, spending weeks in one city is not an always option for us and usually not an options for others as well. To help see more of Berlin, a city filled with so much unique history, we decided to take a 6 hour bike tour through Fat Tire. We had never used Fat Tire Tours before and thought, “what the heck, let’s try it out!” We are glad we did. 

 Biking through a park on the way to the beer garden
Biking through a park on the way to the beer garden

We were able to see Most of Berlin’s highlights during this tour. You may be thinking, “6 hours of biking, that seems like a lot.” We thought the same before taking the tour, however, there were so many breaks when our guide gave us amazing information about the sites that we never felt tired. We even took an hour or so to relax at a German Beer Garden. Prost! If you only have a day or two in Berlin, this will be the best 6 hours you can spend. To maximize your Berlin experience, we suggest taking the 4pm evening tour. 

Here are some picture from our amazing 6 hour adventure around Berlin.

 Berliner Fernsehturm (TV tower with observation deck)
Berliner Fernsehturm (TV tower with observation deck)
 Us at the Brandenbourg Gate
Us at the Brandenbourg Gate
 Our stop at the Memorial to the Murdered Jew of Europe
Our stop at the Memorial to the Murdered Jew of Europe
 Learning about the Nazi book burning 
Learning about the Nazi book burning 
 Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
 Victory Column 
Victory Column 
  Bundeskanzleramt (German Federal Chancellery) 
Bundeskanzleramt (German Federal Chancellery) 
 Taking time to relax and learn
Taking time to relax and learn
 The  Reichstag building
The Reichstag building
 Berliner Dom on Museum Island
Berliner Dom on Museum Island

We could not have asked for a better time biking around Berlin. We will for sure take more biking tours when we can. It is a great way to see the sights and learn more about the city we are exploring. 

We are two en route to bike more cities

 

 

Our Copenhagen Pride featured on Brazilian Blog!

We are so honored to share our experience at Copenhagen Pride with Brazil’s number one gay travel blog, Viaja Bi! Click here to read all about our fun time! 

Here is a link to the English google translated version for those of you, like us, who can’t speak Portuguese. 

 

How We Balance Down Time and Tourism

Have you ever felt more tired after a vacation? We sure have!

Being on the road we are constantly in new places with new sights to see and it is easy to fall into the habit of constantly go-go-going. We have found that it is important to balance the continual urge to see it all with the need for down time. Much like being at home, we sometimes need breaks during the day, relaxing evening, a good night sleep, and “weekends” to unwind from a week of doing.  

 Relaxing on the Black Sand Beach, Vík, Iclenad, 2016
Relaxing on the Black Sand Beach, Vík, Iclenad, 2016

We have learned how significant regular breaks during the day can be. Not only do we get to rest our feet, but we get to rest our minds. An easy way for us to do this is to find a café, have a cup of coffee, and people watch. Sitting in silence and letting our mind slow down gives us a second wind for more sight-seeing. 

 Coffee Date. Oslo, Norway, 2016
Coffee Date. Oslo, Norway, 2016

Every night cannot be a night on the town.  Sometimes the best remedy for a long day is a relaxing evening. Dive into a good book, relax in a park, binge watch a tv show, or even nodding off into an early sleep. 

 Kevin relaxing while listening to a good book. Ålä, Sweden, 2016
Kevin relaxing while listening to a good book. Ålä, Sweden, 2016

Another way we have learned to balance our downtime with our tourism is by allowing ourselves to not set wakeup alarms and simply sleeping in. Before traveling the world, we always heard how not getting enough sleep can effect many aspects of your life and it is very true. A good night’s sleep is essential for a good day of sight-seeing.

 Seeing the sights after a good night sleep. Iceland, 2016
Seeing the sights after a good night sleep. Iceland, 2016

Too many consecutive days of being on the go can lead to getting burnt out. After a few weeks of not having a day off from traveling and sight seeing it was time for us to take a weekend. Two consecutive days of hanging around with nothing planned was pure bliss. It reinvigorated us. From that point on we decided that allowing ourselves to have weekends was one of the most important ways of balancing downtime with our tourism. 

 Enjoying a weekend with nothing planned. Copenhagen, Denmark
Enjoying a weekend with nothing planned. Copenhagen, Denmark

We had to let go of being on a schedule to see everything, rather, experience the place we are visiting. A good way to do this is to balance being a tourist with simple being someone living on the move.     

We are two en route for balanced travel.

Stockholm’s Underground Art Scene

Stockholm claims the title “Capital of Scandinavia.”  It is the largest city with some of the most beautiful architecture and has an extensive collection of galleried art. However, did you know some of the most fascinating art can be found underground? You literally have to go under the city and into the subways to find it. 

On our first trip into the subway, when we arrived into Stockholm, we noticed something was different. The walls were alive with interest. From that moment, we decided to do a little research and found out that 90% of Stockholm’s subway stations host some of the coolest and most unique works of art. A few days into our stay we decided to hop from station to station to feast our eyes on more. Here are a few of our favorites. Enjoy!

 Stadion Station - Red Line
Stadion Station – Red Line
 Stadion Station - Red Line
Stadion Station – Red Line
 Hötorget Station - Green Line
Hötorget Station – Green Line
 T-Centralen Station - Blue Line
T-Centralen Station – Blue Line
 T-Centralen Station - Blue Line
T-Centralen Station – Blue Line
 Stadshagen Station - Blue Line
Stadshagen Station – Blue Line
 Stadshagen Station - Blue Line
Stadshagen Station – Blue Line
 Stadshagen Station - Blue Line
Stadshagen Station – Blue Line
 Kungsträdgården Station - Blue Line
Kungsträdgården Station – Blue Line
 Kungsträdgården Station - Blue Line
Kungsträdgården Station – Blue Line

We are two en route to explore more underground art. 

Sleeping in Airports

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One goal we set for our RTW trip is to make our money go as far as possible and to live within a new means. This meant making compromises along the way and even being uncomfortable at times. We started our trip by testing how far we could test our limits, asked ourselves if these limits were unrealistic, and even hoped that the edge we would walk up to might somehow continue to be pushed further and further out making what would have seemed uncomfortable not so bad. Our journey to the starting point did just that.

We are no strangers to public transit, so dropping our car off at my dad’s work, putting on our backpacks, and navigating DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) to the airport was a breeze. Once we arrived at the airport it was like second nature to us going through security and making it to the gate hours early in anticipation of heading out.

 Goodbye Dallas from the DART, 2016 
Goodbye Dallas from the DART, 2016 

Storms started to roll in just as we were supposed to board the plane. This was not a big deal; we had left plenty of time for our layover in Boston. We finally make it on the plane, which had been delayed nearly an hour, only to find out that the pilots and some crew had not made it because of delays on their end. After another 20 minutes, the crew was there and we pulled away from the gate. Off we go to start our adventure!

 On the Plane, DAL > BOS, 2016
On the Plane, DAL > BOS, 2016

It was past midnight by the time we landed in Boston and by this point we were tired. Not knowing what Boston’s policies are, Kevin asked an employee if Boston was a 24-hour airport. Turns out it is, however, you cannot sleep inside the security area after they close security lines around 2am. We quickly got online to look for sleeping accommodations and found out that getting a “quick hotel” would eat up way more of our daily budget than we were comfortable. Kevin strolled back to the employee and asked, “are their places to sleep outside of security checkpoint that are still inside the airport lobby?” to which the man replied, “yes, but all of the cots have been passed out.”

As we made it out of the airport secured area, sure enough, we noticed a lot of people sleeping on a number of things, cots being one of them. We decided to leave the current terminal (Terminal A) and walk to the international terminal (Terminal E). Along the .5 mile walk, each terminal had its own slew of sleeping patrons. When we walked through Terminal D’s baggage claim, we say a pile of cots on the wall not yet claimed. We found our beds for the night!

 Our Cots for the Night, BOS Airport, 2016
Our Cots for the Night, BOS Airport, 2016

Settling in at Terminal E for the night was a new experience for us since neither of us had even stayed overnight in an airport. Time to test out pushing our limits. We knew we would not be getting much sleep because there was a large tag on the cots saying they would be picked up at 5am and by the time we locked our bags up and settled in it was nearly 1am. Between the stiff cots and the lady on the PA system announcing the next flight to Hong Kong, it was a rough night trying to grasp a few hours of sleep. At 5am, we woke up, tried to compose ourselves to the best of our ability, and wandered like zombies trying to figure out what we wanted to do for the next 14 hours. Figuring out next steps out was quick, we both wanted to find a bench to nap on, so we did. Airport lobby bench seats are much more comfortable than those cots, but only if you are lucky enough to find a bench without fixed armrests. Lesson learned.

 Brad Sleeping, BOS Airport, 2016
Brad Sleeping, BOS Airport, 2016

After a few hours of sleep, we feel refreshed! Testing our limits is a baby-step process. First sleeping in airports in Boston, next we will be sleeping in our rental car in Iceland, and then maybe on the floor of a train station. Not every limitation we test will be worth it in terms of our comfort, but every tested limitation will be a worthwhile lesson learned about ourselves.

We are two en route to mastering airport sleeping.